Theme parks are full of sights and sounds, which is what makes it fun for most families. Sometimes these distractions can be too much for kids with autism. That’s why Dollywood opens The Calming Room for autism guests, partnering with Autism speaks to ensure everyone has a wonderful time!

Dollywood Wild Eagle

Theme Park attractions can be overwhelming to many! Entrance to Dollywood’s Wild Eagle roller coaster. Photo Courtesy of Teronya Holmes, Storytelling TravelingMom

Dollywood Theme Park Serves Autism Guests

Sights and sounds of a theme park can be overwhelming for all families. For kids with autism, these can be debilitating. Families with these special needs travelers now have a place at Dollywood for a quiet, relaxing environment. The first of its kind in any theme park, Dollywood opens The Calming Room for autism guests.

As a theme park enthusiast, I’ve never shied away from taking the children along since infancy. I can attest to the importance of finding places away from the constantly stimulating environment. We’ve prevented many a melt-down by finding quiet spots at Dollywood to enjoy a cool drink. Or sometimes we simply return to the resort for a nap, swim, or even workout. However, I imagine even the worst of days with one of my children might never compare with the extreme difficulty families with children on the autism spectrum might experience.

More about Traveling with Autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. Often nothing is noticeably physically. But people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people, with abilities ranging from gifted to severely challenged.

The statistics show 1 in 68 children have been identified with ASD.  Since April 29, Dollywood’s Ride Accessibility Center has met 447 children with ASD.  These families and their children visit Dollywood to enjoy a great time but sometimes find it overwhelming. Now, those special needs families can visit Dollywood’s Calming Room.

Dollywood Theme Park Serves Autism Guests with A Calming Room. Photo credit: Storytelling TMOM Teronya Holmes

Dollywood Theme Park Serves Autism Guests with A Calming Room. Photo credit: Storytelling TMOM Teronya Holmes

Dollywood’s Calming Room: Away from the Noise

The first of its kind in a theme park, Dollywood’s Calming Room has been created for the purpose of helping special needs guests who may have a sensory overload. It is a quiet, relaxing environment where the Guest and his/her family can feel safe and at ease. The room, which opened May 16th, is equipped with sensory items such as a weighted blanket, fiber optic strands, and a teepee.

Located between the Exchange Center and Dreamsong Theater in Jukebox Junction, The Calming Room has already been a true blessing for many amazing families. The room is easily identified by the autism puzzle logo on the door.

Guests can call 1-800-Dollywood (1-800-365-5996) in advance of their visit to speak to an attendant at the Ride Accessibility Center. When visiting the Park, the Guest can stop by the Ride Accessibility Center adjacent to the Dollywood Emporium and a Ride Accessibility Host will be able to assist them should they need to use the room.